Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, May 27Some Orange County residents in tattered remnants of long-ago wars salute Old Glory as it flaps over gravestones. Others hit JC Penney's annual white sale. We all have different ways of celebrating Memorial Day. This $10 Rolex joins real Americans across the land in marking the day in front of the tube, but, swear to God, if we see World War II Marines lifting the flag at Iwo Jima fading into New York City firefighters lifting the flag over the World Trade Center one more time, we're barfing red, white and blueberries. As we honor those souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice, The Rightpushes to dismantle more of the very freedoms those souls fought to defend. Shifting the focus away from what our government knew before Sept. 11 about Sept. 11, they charge that a lack of racial profiling let terrorists roam our land freely. Further, they blame the "human rights lobby" from keeping interrogators from beating, er, getting more intelligence out of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Where are Rambo, Ronnie Reagan and Ollie North when you really need them?

TUESDAY, May 28 So much for Old Glory: quilt-making biddies hold a flag-lowering ceremony outside their Costa Mesa store. As "Taps" blares, the Stars and Stripes that normally flies over Piecemakers is lowered and replaced with the "Don't Tread on Me" flag South Carolina flew during the Revolutionary War. According to the Christian culty cuties, the U.S. is no longer based on the Constitution. No duh! But it's not John Ashcroft, racial profilers or human-rights assaulters that have their bloomers in a bunch. Piecemakers has been at war with the city and county forever because they don't believe they should be subject to government health codes and fire inspections. Two Piecemakers fellowship members got dragged into court last year to face libel charges brought by two county code enforcers who had been publicly called "Gestapo whores," "rapists" and "Martian reptiles." (The county probably had to hire representatives of those groups under equal-opportunity laws pushed for by the human-rights lobby.) The fellowship got into hot holy water a few years ago when they talked of going all "Oklahoma City" on someone's ass. And their website (www.piecemakers.com) still includes kooky manifestos and bizarre cartoon panels like a reptilian creature (representing the government) chewing the limbs off a dismembered man (representing the taxpayer); a groom (the state) marrying a bride (the church) above the words "Do you take this whore to be your lawfully wedded wife?"; and an ATF agent, Janet Reno, Adolph Hitler, Bill Clinton and perhaps Josef Stalin being lynched. Jeez, and we had just wandered in to buy Grandma an afghan.
Illustration by Bob Aul

Amid much fanfare, the Orange County Transportation Authority celebrates its billionth bus customer. Amid no fanfare, they also celebrate the 999,998,367th customer to reach under a bus seat and find used chewing gum.

WEDNESDAY, May 29 UC Irvine students set up a tent city in Aldrich Park in the center of campus to protest the university's plan to boost the number of heavily recruited graduate students who get first crack at campus housing. But before security police can go all Kent State on everyone's ass, the Irvine Code Enforcement Goon Squad shows up to beat protesters to a pulp for running afoul of master-race-planned-community laws concerning proper setbacks, building materials and use of mauve coloring. Where are the Piecemakers when you really need them?

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A court fines French rapper Joey Starr the equivalent of $9,100 American for having repeatedly slapped his pet monkey on a television program that aired in March. Leave it to the French to take literally the cartoon of the guy spanking his monkey in the Spanky's ad in the Weekly.

THURSDAY, May 30 Tentacles from Orange County's billion-dollar bankruptcy continue to spread like crabgrass in our kitchen (don't ask). Various media outlets report today that the embattled Archdiocese of Los Angeles hired Century City-based Sitrick & Co. to help with damage control. The public-relations firm did $400,000 worth of flackery for the county during the dark days of the mid-'90s. How much Sitrick will charge the Catholics remains a mystery of faith. After all, the firm only had to spin on behalf of a few assorted career bureaucrats and five elected supervisors in Orange County. The archdiocese needs cover for scandal-plagued Cardinal Roger Mahonyand more than 30 priestsunder investigation for alleged sexual misconduct with kiddies. Meanwhile, the Dubya appointee who heads the Securities and Exchange Commission—the federal agency investigating Enron, Arthur Andersenand assorted Wall Street firms engulfed in the securities-fraud scandal—represented Merrill Lynch during OC's financial freefall. Bankruptcies and altar boys sure make strange bedfellows. FRIDAY, May 31 Obnoxiously loud restaurant chain TGI Friday's reaches a confidential settlement with CKE Restaurants Inc. to end a legal battle over the Carl's Jr."$6 burger" advertising campaign. Friday's sued CKE, which was founded by Anaheim's Carl Karcher, claiming the Carl's Jr. ads were false, misleading and unfair competition. You may recall the annoying TV commercials with the fat lady in the Friday's-esque uniform singing "Happy, happy birthday," or the spots that claimed Carl's $3.95 burger is "like the burger I just paid about $6.25 for at Friday's." At least it wasn't one of those gross Carl's commercials showing chopped cow meat juice streaming down people's faces. SATURDAY, June 1 Ignoring for one day the multiple police incident reports concerning graffiti vandalism across the county, graffiti artistsare feted at the Children's Creative Festival Fun With Chalk 2002event in Mission Viejo. Meanwhile, a display by several graffiti artists who worked under the tutelage of renowned Mexican artist Vladimir Cora opens in Santa Ana's Artists Village. With the art, music and fashions of the streets having all busted into the mainstream, what's next? Drive-by shooting galleries? SUNDAY, June 2 The Los Angeles Lakersdefeat the Sacramento Kingsto advance to the NBA finals after one of the closest seven-game series in memory. What will it take for the surging Kings franchise to one day overtake the world-champion Lakers? As the Blue Oyster Cult record producer portrayed by Christopher Walkenon Saturday Night Live put it: MORE COWBELLS!!!


Saturday, June 1, Newport Beach: "Hey, there's my burrito from last night. Thanks, OC Sanitation District!"

Photo by Jack Gould

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